Cotinus coggygria (Smokebush) is a deciduous shrub or small tree known for its attractive foliage and unique smoky inflorescences. It is native to southern Europe, central China, and the Himalayas.
Appearance: Smokebush is a medium-sized shrub or small tree that can reach a height of 3 to 5 meters (10 to 16 feet) with a similar spread. It has a rounded, bushy habit with arching branches. The leaves are typically elliptical or ovate in shape and have serrated edges. The foliage color varies depending on the cultivar, ranging from deep purple, burgundy, or green. Some cultivars may have variegated foliage.
Flowers: In early summer, Smokebush produces small, inconspicuous yellow-green flowers in clusters. However, the flowers themselves are not the main ornamental feature of the plant. It is the elongated inflorescences that give the plant its smoky appearance. These inflorescences consist of numerous fine, thread-like filaments that extend above the foliage, creating a cloud-like or smoky effect. The color of the inflorescences can range from pinkish-purple to purplish-gray, depending on the cultivar.
Landscape Use: Smokebush is prized for its ornamental value and is commonly used in landscaping. Its unique smoky inflorescences and attractive foliage make it a popular choice as a focal point or specimen plant. It can be planted in mixed borders, foundation plantings, or as part of a shrub or perennial garden. The plant's color and texture add visual interest and can complement other plants in the landscape.
Pruning: Pruning of Smokebush is typically done in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges. It can be pruned to maintain its shape, remove dead or damaged branches, or to control its size. Some gardeners prefer to prune Smokebush more heavily to promote larger, showier inflorescences, while others prefer a more natural, unpruned look.
Fall Color: In addition to its smoky inflorescences, Smokebush offers a showy display of fall colors. The foliage can turn vibrant shades of orange, red, and purple in the autumn, adding further beauty to the plant.
Smokebush, Cotinus coggygria, is a captivating plant that adds a unique and dramatic element to gardens and landscapes. With its smoky inflorescences, attractive foliage, and ability to thrive in various growing conditions, it is a popular choice for those seeking a striking and low-maintenance shrub.